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bill_barilko

Single Transferable Vote

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Here in BC we're about to vote on whether or not to implement the STV system Click Here for info

I have my doubts but then again I've lived with First Past The Post all my life.

Anyone here have any experience living with this system? :unsure:

It's currently used in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta and the Western Australian senate. So, if you know anyone from any of those places, you might ask them. If anyone is old enough to remember, it was used in urban areas of Alberta and Manitoba between the 1920's and the 1950's. In those two provinces, politicians eliminated it without holding referenda. Politicians in Ireland have tried to get rid of it twice but the electorate voted to keep it. We'd have it for this election except Gordon Campbell wanted to make it extra hard by imposing the super-majority rules.

It isn't perfectly proportional but it does produce much better proportionality than our current first past the post system. The point of STV is to strike a balance between local repesentation and accountability and proportionality. Unlike other forms of PR, in STV you vote only for the individuals, not the parties.

Under STV, we could expect coalition governments. This seems to frighten a lot of people but a lot of the worlds democracies work just fine with coalitions. Vote counting under STV is somewhat involved and the no supporters use that as a bogeyman to frighten people away. It isn't that complicated and in the complexity is good in that it makes it more difficult for parties to 'game' the results. The results of 2001 (Liberals got almost all the seats with just over half the votes) and 1996 (NDP, trailing significantly in popular vote, still got majority) would have been much different under STV.

First past the post may be fine for horse races but it doesn't produce legislatures that reflect the wishes of the electorate.

Edited by ReeferMadness

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Under STV, we could expect coalition governments. This seems to frighten a lot of people but a lot of the worlds democracies work just fine with coalitions. Vote counting under STV is somewhat involved and the no supporters use that as a bogeyman to frighten people away. It isn't that complicated and in the complexity is good in that it makes it more difficult for parties to 'game' the results. The results of 2001 (Liberals got almost all the seats with just over half the votes) and 1996 (NDP, trailing significantly in popular vote, still got majority) would have been much different under STV.

First past the post may be fine for horse races but it doesn't produce legislatures that reflect the wishes of the electorate.

Over my lifetime I have seen a number of occasions where the NDP propped up the Liberals in a minority government, especially here in Ontario. Every time it seemed that the price was the enacting of NDP pet Bills to ensure the Liberal Party got to govern.

How does this reflect the wishes of the electorate? Essentially, these were coalition governments and the party who received the LEAST number of votes got its way on a number of very significant issues!

How would STV or PR address this?

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Over my lifetime I have seen a number of occasions where the NDP propped up the Liberals in a minority government, especially here in Ontario. Every time it seemed that the price was the enacting of NDP pet Bills to ensure the Liberal Party got to govern.

How does this reflect the wishes of the electorate?

How would STV or PR address this?

I don't know if it would and I really don't care. Change for the sake of change is plenty enough reason for me to vote for STV. There is probably no country on Earth that is as suffocatingly hidebound about preserving its parliamentary traditions than Canada and nothing makes me want to puke more than that sappy adage, "its served us well enough till now".

If somebody levelled the Parliament buildings tomorrow I'd be dancing in the streets singing "Bullseye". I'll be voting for STV on election day but that's all I'll be voting for.

Essentially, these were coalition governments and the party who received the LEAST number of votes got its way on a number of very significant issues!

Good for them.

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How would STV or PR address this?

Well, Wild Bill.... It would prevent this ..

On September 5, 1990, the NDP scored one of the greatest upsets in Canadian political history, taking 74 seats for a strong majority government. While the NDP only outpolled the Liberals by a narrow six-point margin, they managed to unseat many Liberal incumbents in the Greater Toronto Area. Due to a quirk in the first-past-the-post system, this decimated the Liberal caucus. The Liberals suffered their worst defeat ever, falling from 95 seats to 36; the 59-seat loss surpassed the 48-seat loss in 1943 that began the Tories' long rule over the province. This was also the second-worst defeat for a governing party in Ontario.

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Well, Wild Bill.... It would prevent this ..

Agreed, this was a very expensive lesson for Ontarioans to learn.

Still, I happen to think that very expensive lessons are good for people in the long run. For too many of us, it's the only thing that makes us learn!

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I don't know if it would and I really don't care. Change for the sake of change is plenty enough reason for me to vote for STV.
What a silly argument.

Systems that hostage to the whims of minority parties are bad systems for everyone except those people with the fringe views that support the minority parties.

I could support STV - provided the ridings had no more than 2 candidates that any individual candidate had to pull in at least 20% of the vote to take a seat.

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What a silly argument.

Systems that hostage to the whims of minority parties are bad systems for everyone except those people with the fringe views that support the minority parties.

I could support STV - provided the ridings had no more than 2 candidates that any individual candidate had to pull in at least 20% of the vote to take a seat.

Governments that refuse to change for the sake of staying the same are doomed to die. Change of any kind is eventually preferable.

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Change of any kind is eventually preferable.
Great. So lets change the system to require a minimum 20% vote. Parties that cannot reach that threshold don't get any seats. I am guessing that you would not be so keen on that change.....

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Over my lifetime I have seen a number of occasions where the NDP propped up the Liberals in a minority government, especially here in Ontario. Every time it seemed that the price was the enacting of NDP pet Bills to ensure the Liberal Party got to govern.

How does this reflect the wishes of the electorate? Essentially, these were coalition governments and the party who received the LEAST number of votes got its way on a number of very significant issues!

How would STV or PR address this?

Bill, it sounds like you think that none of the NDP pet bills should ever be enacted and that the portion of the population that supports the NDP (and other small parties) should just sit in the corner and sulk.

A good system should ensure that all points of view with substantial support in the populace are represented in government. Certainly that would include the NDP. If the NDP are demanding an excessive price for their cooperation in the coalition, then the other two parties could easily form a coalition themselves.

Our problem is that in Canada, we've become used to false majority government. 40% of the popular vote = 60% of the seats = 100% of the power. And with voter participation hovering around 60%, you're really talking about 25% of the voters controlling everything.

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A good system should ensure that all points of view with substantial support in the populace are represented in government.
You are not asking for the impossible but you are asking for much, and too much for any conceivable so-called democratic voting system.

This thread and OP are very naive.

How individuals arrive at a collective decision is a complex question - unless we resort to the trivial case of a dictator.

----

When you go to a restaurant with friends, how do you order and how do you pay the bill?

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A good system should ensure that all points of view with substantial support in the populace are represented in government. Certainly that would include the NDP. If the NDP are demanding an excessive price for their cooperation in the coalition, then the other two parties could easily form a coalition themselves.
You obviously do not understand how politics really works. The two largest parties ALWAYS want to position themselves as the alternate government. For that reason they will never form a coalition together. As a result, minority parties end up having the balance of power. This is an unacceptable situation for the majority of voters who favour one of the two major parties. That is why systems which encourage fringe parties are bad for democracy. Edited by Riverwind

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You are not asking for the impossible but you are asking for much, and too much for any conceivable so-called democratic voting system.

This thread and OP are very naive.

How individuals arrive at a collective decision is a complex question - unless we resort to the trivial case of a dictator.

----

When you go to a restaurant with friends, how do you order and how do you pay the bill?

Most democracies worldwide operate on the basis of coalitions and coalitions are built throught consensus. It isn't perfect but it's a damned sight better than having one elected dictator heading a party that got 38% of the vote making all the decisions unilaterally. Most of the FPTP troglodytes can't see past the limitations of the system because they won't look outside of England, US and here. Essentially, today we have a dictator every time there is a majority government.

It's funny you bring up the restaurant. During the STV debates, a school ran a simulation with kids ordering pizza toppings, once with a FPTP model and once under STV. Overall satisfaction went up markedly with STV.

I would like it if my satisfaction with the government went up.

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You obviously do not understand how politics really works. The two largest parties ALWAYS want to position themselves as the alternate government. For that reason they will never form a coalition together. As a result, minority parties end up having the balance of power. This is an unacceptable situation for the majority of voters who favour one of the two major parties. That is why systems which encourage fringe parties are bad for democracy.

Under the current system, that's true but only because we're used to getting false majorities. With STV, the dynamics change and the number of parties elected is likely to increase.

I can't tell if you're just cynical of if you actually like having a dysfunctional political system.

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Great. So lets change the system to require a minimum 20% vote. Parties that cannot reach that threshold don't get any seats. I am guessing that you would not be so keen on that change.....

I'll have no problem with that if you agree to making voting mandatory.

Whatever we use ReeferMadness said it best A good system should ensure that all points of view with substantial support in the populace are represented in government.

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Most democracies worldwide operate on the basis of coalitions and coalitions are built throught consensus. It isn't perfect but it's a damned sight better than having one elected dictator heading a party that got 38% of the vote making all the decisions unilaterally.
Really?

The key point is whether the elected dictator ever left office.

Then again, there are myriad decisions, at least in civilized societies, we leave to free markets. For example? Who makes coffee, and who consumes it. Should governments regulate such decisions?

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Under the current system, that's true but only because we're used to getting false majorities. With STV, the dynamics change and the number of parties elected is likely to increase.
The majority of people will vote for one of two centrist parties. This is what happens in all major democracies no matter what the system. These parties also always position themselves as alternate governments so they will never form a coalition with each other which is unfortunate because that is what the voters really want.

A system that encourages more parties will force the main parties to pander to the extremists who will hold the balance of power. This will lead to more polarized governments and a more disfunctional parliment.

I can't tell if you're just cynical of if you actually like having a dysfunctional political system.
We want a system that panders to the broad center where most Canadians are politically and the system we have does that.

In BC, I would be bothered by an NDP majority but I can live with it. An NDP majority propped up by the Greens and/or some aboriginal rights party would be a nightmare. A Liberal government propped up by right fringe party would be equally distasteful even though I tend to be right of center. Given those options I prefer to have a system that will allow a party to get a majority even if they only have 38% of the vote. The poll results on the other thread suggest that I am not alone with this view.

Edited by Riverwind

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Bill, it sounds like you think that none of the NDP pet bills should ever be enacted and that the portion of the population that supports the NDP (and other small parties) should just sit in the corner and sulk.

A good system should ensure that all points of view with substantial support in the populace are represented in government. Certainly that would include the NDP. If the NDP are demanding an excessive price for their cooperation in the coalition, then the other two parties could easily form a coalition themselves.

Our problem is that in Canada, we've become used to false majority government. 40% of the popular vote = 60% of the seats = 100% of the power. And with voter participation hovering around 60%, you're really talking about 25% of the voters controlling everything.

In the cases I mentioned, the smallest party did not just contribute input to some consensus. They got their own way!

Even if I accept your math, which I don't as it makes unsubstantiated assumptions, what happens if we apply your formula to the NDP?

It still boils down to the party with the least votes getting to enact legislation that is unsupported by the majority of citizens.

If you truly believe that is democracy then I guess we talk different languages! Letting the NDP enact a few laws out of some feeling of "inclusiveness" seems outright crazy and unfair to me.

I seriously doubt if you would support an NDP government returning the favour someday.

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And with voter participation hovering around 60%, you're really talking about 25% of the voters controlling everything.
People who don't vote only have themselves to blame. We could change the system but they lazy bums who don't vote now would just come up with another excuse.

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I'll have no problem with that if you agree to making voting mandatory.

Whatever we use ReeferMadness said it best A good system should ensure that all points of view with substantial support in the populace are represented in government.

You guys can cut your own side deal but meanwhile, the vote on BC-STV is proceeding under the proposal prepared by the Citizens Assembly. MLA's can get elected with as little as 12.5% + 1 in a 7 member consituency like Greater Victoria or as much as 33% +1 for a 2 member constituency like the Northeast.

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Which is why the STV proposal should be voted down.

It's nothing of the sort. 12.5% of the votes in Greater Victoria would be more than 33.3% in Northeast BC.

Maybe you are familiar with this thing called democracy?

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Reefer Madness,

It's nothing of the sort. 12.5% of the votes in Greater Victoria would be more than 33.3% in Northeast BC.

Maybe you are familiar with this thing called democracy?

The thing that is most irritating about PR advocates is that they presume that we have been living in democratic insanity until this point. Did our FPTP produce the worst democracy in the world over the past 140 years or so ? I don't think so. I think it's, rather, one of the best that there is.

I'm highly suspicious when people advocate large-scale change, understating the risk and overstating the benefits.

Please don't drape your arguments this way, it hurts them more than it helps them.

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In the cases I mentioned, the smallest party did not just contribute input to some consensus. They got their own way!

Even if I accept your math, which I don't as it makes unsubstantiated assumptions, what happens if we apply your formula to the NDP?

It still boils down to the party with the least votes getting to enact legislation that is unsupported by the majority of citizens.

Accept my math???? Bill, you seem to be implying I don't know what I'm talking about, if not outright calling me a liar.

From the Elections BC website, here are the results of the last 4 BC general elections. In 2005, the Liberals received over 58% of the seats with less than 46% of the votes. In 2001, the Liberals actually did receive the majority of the votes but with less than 58% of the vote they got 97.5% of the seats so we effectively had no opposition. In 1996, the NDP won 52% of the seats with only 39% of the vote; despite the fact that the Liberals got significantly more votes. And in 1991, with under 41% of the vote, the NDP got 68% of the seats! Voter participation has been declining over the years and in the latest election, it was about 58%

The national results are similar. In 2000, the Liberals won over 57% of the seats with less than 41% of the vote. In 1997, the Liberals got 51.5% of the seats with 38.4% of the vote. In 1993, with just 41.2% of the vote, the Liberals got 60% of the seats. In 1988, the Conservatives got 57% of the seats with 43% of the vote. The source for these statistics is Elections Canada for the elections 1993 and after and Wikipedia for the 1988 election. The elections since then have been less distorted but only because there haven't been majority governments. Over the years, voter participation has been declining and was at 58.8% in the most recent election.

Where do these extra seats come from? They come from the smaller parties. In other words, that minor party you are so concerned about probably has significantly fewer seats than it deserves, according to its share of the popular vote.

So, you can see, most "majority" governments are produced with significantly less than a majority of the vote. Legislation that is unsupported by the majority of the population happens all the time. Does that bother you or is it only when the NDP gets the occasional bill through?

There is another aspect to FPTP that isn't usually mentioned. Federally, it's bad for Canadian unity. Regional parties, like the BQ, get way more than their share of seats. For example, in last year's election the BQ got 16% of the seats with 10% of the vote. That's a 60% premium. And it isn't just Quebec. Alberta and Saskatchewan elect almost 100% conservatives, leaving other views in those provinces unrepresented. For a long time, Ontario was almost totally Liberal, leaving the Conservatives in that province unrepresented. Under these conditions, an ideological dispute between the Conservatives and Liberals starts to look like a regional conflict. A good democratic system should ensure that regional voices are appropriately represented. Ours doesn't.

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The thing that is most irritating about PR advocates is that they presume that we have been living in democratic insanity until this point. Did our FPTP produce the worst democracy in the world over the past 140 years or so ? I don't think so. I think it's, rather, one of the best that there is.

A LOT of Canadians feel like they're living in a democratic dictatorship.

In any case the chances of anyone ever securing a majority in Canada again are slim given the development of the Bloc. Another regional party or two would further reduce the chance of a majority to none. Its not that FPTP was so bad its just that it's really ill-suited for the multitude of parties and voices that have emerged in today's busier more complex world.

Its an anachronism that is out of time and place. Its time to move on.

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